The writing career of Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999) stretched over some seventy years, encompassing at least seventy works of fiction as well as non-fiction, poetry and plays. Almost unknown, however, is the mass of shorter prose pieces - journalism, essays, polemics, reminiscences - which Mitchison produced during her long career. There are many hundreds of these pieces, covering a tremendously wide range of topics, an untapped resource both in Mitchison biography and in the wider field of social history.
Volume 2 in the seven-volume edition of Naomi Mitchison's Essays and Journalism is devoted to her writing about the West Highland village of Carradale, to which she moved in the late 1930s and where she lived for over sixty years. She writes about many aspects of Carradale: her farm, the local fishing industry, the big garden which was particularly dear to her heart, and 'the village and the Big House'. A long essay, 'Rural Reconstruction', never reprinted before, is a snapshot of Carradale in the 1940s and a spirited presentation of Mitchison's dreams for its future. These digressive, charming, combative pieces show both the practical and the thoughtful sides of her writing, often to touching effect: she cared deeply for Carradale and its people, and the book is a wonderful introduction to a beautiful part of Scotland and a major writer.